China: Golden Week Holiday Chaos

The week-long National Day holiday has again brought chaos in major tourist areas due to under-capacity – news and images about trapped tourists, and dirty tourist spots full of trash have spread across micro-blogs. The situation is frustrating and some suggest that it is about time to review the Golden Week Holiday policy.

Golden Week is a term used in mainland China to describe the 7-day national holiday during Lunar New Year in February and National Day in October. The policy was introduced back in 1999 to promote domestic tourism and consumption. This year, because of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the National Day Golden Week started earlier and within the first three days, the whole country was full of chaos.

Hu Chuanchun puts together [zh] all the chaotic scenes into a collage and sums up the situation in his micro-blog:

Hu Chuanchun puts together all the chaotic scenes into a collage.


[The whole country in chaos] Within the first three days of the national day holiday, the whole country has fallen into chaos: Highways are all blocked with traffic; bus on fire; boat sunk in Hong Kong; Taiwan visa-free [to the U.S]; Sanya beach has turned into a rubbish field; Gulang Island has fallen; The bridge of West Lake has been buried in crowds; Huangshan has no more room for tourists; thousands of tourists were trapped in Mount Hua, Wuyi mountains, Mount Putuo and Sanqingshan; last night around 12 a.m, the road leading to Jiuzhaigou Valley was still blocked; the Forbidden City was filled up with people and one could not distinguish which side is the inner side of the Great Wall.

The chaos in Mount Hua has become the news [zh] headline in local media outlets. Up to 10 thousand tourists were trapped on top of the mount with no shelter and food in cold and rain, while the mountain cable car could not cater for the needs of so many tourists. On the other hand, the hostels raised the rental price per bed to 1000 yuan [approximately USD120] per night. Beijing micro-blogger Yuanyuan who was in Mount Hua yesterday described [zh] the situation:


Bad things are happening in Mount Hua, they have stopped selling tickets and police have entered the mountain. All public transportation to Mount Hua is now cut. Many people are trapped on top of the mountain. Over-crowding for the down-hill transportation system. Riots may take place as all the down-hill paths are blocked with people. People are squeezing, cursing and fist-fighting… I am scared. I want to go home.

She updated [zh] the situation after sunset:


Night comes and there are still thousands of tourists stuck on top. Riots did happen – some tourists were hitting the cars to express their anger and tourist buses dared not enter the mountain. There are so many elderly and children, someone should go there and help them out. The paths are so dark at night and weather so cold. The hilly paths are dangerous and filled up with people. No food and no shelters, save the elderly and children first. Act quickly.

This morning three boats near Gulang Island suddenly caught on fire [zh]. The accident may also be related to the limited-capacity problem as Xiamen Wang Shuo described the situation:


[2012 the “fall” of Gulang Island] People, people, people, people!!! Please take a look at the fall of Gulang Island. Will you sink, Gulang island? October 1, more than 100 thousands tourists in Guland Island. But the optimal capacity for tourists is just 17 thousand. It took 3 minutes to move 1 meter in the path leading to Sunshine rock. Hurray, visitors!

In Sanya beach, after the mid autumn festival 50 tons of trash was spread across a 3 km coastline.

Addressing the limited-capacity problem of tourist facilities, a Qinghua scholar Cai Jiming suggested abolishing the Golden Week Policy and replacing it with annual holidays so as to allow employees to choose when exactly to take their paid leave. But it seems that ordinary people don't understand his proposal and think that the annual leave system will cut short their paid holiday.


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